Proposed Amendments to Employment Standards Act Would Benefit Families

The Ontario government recently introduced a new bill that, if passed, would allow eligible employees to take additional unpaid leaves of absences.

There is currently a family medical leave under the Employment Standards Act (“ESA”) which allows employees to take an unpaid leave of absence for up to 8 weeks to provide care or support to certain relatives who have a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death occurring within a period of 26 weeks. The proposed amendments would create additional types of entitlements available to family members.

Family caregiver leave

One of the proposed leaves is a family caregiver leave, which is similar to the family medical leave with a notable difference being that there need not be a risk of death, imminent or otherwise. This leave is in addition to any entitlement under family medical leave.

Critically ill child care leave

Bill 21 also introduces a critically ill child care leave. Under this section, an employee who has been employed by his or her employer for at least 6 consecutive months is entitled to a leave of absence to provide care or support to a critically ill child of the employee if a qualified health practitioner issues a certificate stating that the child is a critically ill child who requires the care or support of one or more parent. This leave would be available for up to 37 weeks and would also be unpaid.

The Act provides details about what must happen in the event a parent has more than one child ill at the same time or the child dies during the leave.

Crime-related child death or disappearance leave

This leave would provide an entitlement of up to 104 weeks off work, unpaid, if a child of the employee dies and it is probable, considering the circumstances, that the child died as a result of a crime.

If a child of the employee disappears and it is probable that the child disappeared as a result of the crime, the employee would be entitled to a leave of absence without pay of up to 52 weeks.

Details are provided with respect to what will occur if the circumstances change or the child is found.

As is often the case, the proposed amendments under the ESA impose obligations on bothemployers and employees.

Update: Bill 21 passed in April 2014.

Please contact us if you have questions about your rights or obligations under the ESA.

Photo credit: Hamed Saber / / CC BY

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